News & Media

Drug addiction is a health issue, not a legal matter

26 February 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin today (Wednesday) called for drug addiction to be treated as a health issue, not a legal matter. Attending the Drugs Decriminalisation Conference at Dunboyne Castle Hotel, County Meath, Deputy Ó Ríordáin called for more Garda resources to stamp out serious drug traffickers, drug-related intimidation and violent drug gangs – and an end to criminalisation for addicts’ minor possession of drugs.

Ó Ríordáin, who’s campaigning work for a health-based approach to the drugs problem has been recognised in Ireland and abroad, said Ireland now had the third highest overdose rate in Europe.

“Decriminalisation means decriminalisation of the user, not the drug. This approach would save lives and free up valuable Garda resources to tackle organised crime, rather than the victims of crime.

“I welcome this important and timely conference, which offers practitioners and campaigners from across Europe the chance to share their experiences and work together to help advance an evidence-based harm reduction approach to the drugs problem,” he said.

Ó Ríordáin also called for increased funding for the Drug and Alcohol Task Force to strengthen its community development role and address the root causes of substance misuse.

“The increased availability of addiction treatment services across the country is long overdue, with substance misuse now prevalent in every part of the country in rural and urban communities that have been abandoned by successive governments,” he said.